Codecs are computer programs that are able to encode and decode video. Different video formats require different codecs to play correctly, and your computer likely shipped with certain codec types pre-installed, such as DivX. If you do not have the correct codec installed, the video player will usually alert you and recommend that you install the correct codec for that video format.
The issue is, there are many types of codecs out there for the various video formats and not all of them are safe for installing. Some codecs have hidden malware or viruses inside that allow hackers to gain control of your computer and do what they want, such as collecting your personal information. This article will help you learn more about how to stay safe with codecs.
Codecs and decoders, what are they?
Codecs are designed to compress and decompress larger files, and decoders decode the encoded information. The different types work with different file formats. They generally come in codec packs which include several types of software that work to make the process of installing various codecs easier as it installs them all at once. This saves you time from searching for each codec needed, but can come with the disadvantage of causing conflicts with other programs, or contain viruses, malware, adware or spyware.
Ways to avoid falling victim to hackers
The best way to avoid installing an infected codec is not to install them at all. There are video players out there that contain their own codec sets that do not conflict with other programs, do not require managing and stay updated from within the video player, which eliminates the requirement of downloading and potentially infecting your computer.
Safe place to download video players and codecs
If using a video player like PotPlayer or VLC that comes pre-built with a set of codecs that automatically update is not an option and you still need to download and install a codec, then you should do so from a well-known and trusted site.
The first step is knowing exactly which codec you need to install. If you use a video player like Windows Movie Player, it may tell you what type of codec you are missing. If this is not the case, you can Google the codec type needed for the video file format you can’t play.
Then you need to find a trusted site with that codec, not a codec pack. Since you do not want to install random codecs if you only need one, you want a site that will allow this. One popular and trusted site for safe codecs is XVid.
Because of the rapid pace that things change online, it is always a good idea to do a quick Google search for safe sites to download video codecs at the time.
Common ways to protect your PC
Usually a computer will end up with a virus or malware because the user installed something that was malicious. However, it is not the only way. A malware infection can only work if the installed program is launched and not shut down or removed. Hackers need to know more than just coding, but how users act and what mistakes they make in order to trick them.
Below are some steps to take in staying protected and safe:
- Keep your PC updated and secure with latest official patches.
- Be aware and suspicious about random popup windows, suspicious email attachments and error messages.
- Eliminate spam right away, don’t ever open it.
- Always think prior to installing suspicious software. If you are not 100% sure about it, then research it in-depth first.
- Use top antivirus and anti-malware software. There are pretty good free plans for every top product.
- Use common sense. If something feels too good to be true, usually it is a scam.